Calling All High School Golfers: Would you like to play in the 2014 Rockford Pro-Am?

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As a prime sponsor of this year’s Rockford Pro-Am, on July 14, 2014, Alpine Bank will have one foursome play in the tournament. Like the last five years, it is our desire to provide four up and coming golfers in our area the opportunity to play in this prestigious event.

All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, per the following application criteria.   Applicants must be currently enrolled in 9th – 12th grade, reside in Northern Illinois, and have previous golf experience – whether playing for a school team or independently.  Golfers who have played in one of our previous foursomes are not eligible to reapply.

The 2014 Pro-Am Golfer Application can be found at www.bankalpine.com/ProAm2014 or can be picked up at any Alpine Bank location.  The completed application, along with a one-page letter of recommendation from a non-family member regarding your golf skill and experience, can be returned to any Alpine Bank branch or mailed to Alpine Bank, Marketing Department, P.O. Box 6086, Rockford, IL 61125-1086.  The deadline for submission is Friday, May 16, 2014.

A selection committee will review all applications and the foursomes will be announced in May.

 

Learn More about the Rockford Pro-Am >

3 Negative Financial Habits You May Be Teaching Your Children

Whether we want to realize it or not, the way we were raised has a tremendous impact on how we make decisions as an adult. April is Financial Literacy Month and Alpine Bank wants you to consider the negative financial habits that you may unintentionally be teaching your children.

Good financial habits for kids

Saving money is just one financial habit kids can learn from their parents

Did you know most children’s financial habits are formed by age seven? It’s widely known that children pick up on words, dress style and food habits at a young age, but it hasn’t been predominantly communicated that financial habits were on the list of precautions to take when around children.

Children under the age of eight years old may be able to count and recognize money, but it’s suggested that they do not have an understanding of the difference between “luxuries” and “necessities”, meaning they see items, not the amount of money spent to purchase them. It is crucial that financial education starts at a young age.

Here are three common parenting behaviors that can negatively influence children’s money habits.

  1. You Spoil Your Children: Your child may expect that they can and should still get whatever they want when they grow up. The problem is they may not have the income to support the ability to live large. Challenge yourself to put money in a savings account for your child instead of giving them games, clothes and toys.
  2. You Make Financial Decisions on a Whim: Go out for dinner? Sure. Go see a movie? You bet. Go shopping for new clothes? Why not? If you are always saying yes to questions that involve buying something, you are showing your kids that financial decisions should be made without much thought. Sure, it may be fine to go out for dinner tonight, but explain to them that this means they’ll have to sacrifice that movie night later in the week.
  3. You are Very Frugal: Whether you need to keep a tight budget or you are a penny pincher, this money saving tactic could potentially affect your child’s spending habits in the future. It has been shown in a few studies that excessive spending can be a side effect of living an extremely frugal childhood. Talk to your child and explain the reasoning for being careful with money so that they can learn the benefits of saving and not feel resentful.

Since children learn a lot from their parents, Alpine Bank wants you to celebrate Financial Literacy Month by improving your financial habits while educating your children on how to stay financially successful. Make a commitment to help your child grow into a financially independent person this April.

The Heartbleed Bug

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There has been a lot of talk about the Heartbleed Bug this past week.  Alpine Bank has been proactive in researching all aspects of www.bankalpine.com to view our vulnerability.  We have run diagnostic tests on our website to insure that it is not at risk to this threat.  We have also asked all of our third party vendors to complete vulnerability risks on their sites.  At this time, there are no known vulnerability threats to any Alpine Bank sites.

We will continue to monitor the situation and if the need arises, we will take the necessary steps to mitigate the threat of this bug.

Learn more about it at www.heartbleed.com.

Learn what you can do at http://krebsonsecurity.com/2014/04/heartbleed-bug-what-can-you-do/.

Learn what banks are doing at http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/179_71/ffiec-tells-banks-to-fix-heartbleed-security-risks-asap-1066839-1.html

Alpine Bank 2014 Service Star Awards

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Bill Roop, president & CEO of Alpine Bank, announced the Employee Service Star Award winners for 2013 at Alpine Bank’s annual Employee Recognition Dinner. Alpine Bank has been awarding the Service Stars since 1998. The Service Star awards are a way to pay special tribute to those employees who really set the standard for bank employees, in the level of service they provide.

Throughout the year, Alpine employees are asked to submit nominations, called a WOW! (What Outstanding Work), in three categories.  The categories are Service to Internal Customers, Service to External Customers and Brand Champion.  At the end of each quarter a winner(s) is chosen out of the nominees to receive a quarterly award.  Out of the quarterly winners, a final yearly winner is chosen to receive the Service Star Awards.

The Service to Internal Customers Service Star Award went to Wendy Goldsworthy, Senior Application Systems Administrator.  Ms. Goldsworthy received numerous nominations throughout the year from several departments and branches.  One employee commented, “Wendy is the ‘go to’ person for any out of the ordinary supplies.  Have a button that needs to be sewed back on; Wendy has a needle and thread…”  Many others commented on her pleasant demeanor and that she is very knowledgeable and helpful.

The Service to External Customers Service Star award was presented to Bryan Gatlin, Assistant Manager – Roscoe Branch.  Nominations for Mr. Gatlin noted that he is always kind and follows through with whatever task he is given.  One coworker wrote, “He communicates well and I appreciate that so much.  I know I can count on Bryan and his kindness and his caring ways make him a wonderful asset to Alpine Bank.”

The Role Model Service Award was given to Susan Cadie, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, for her numerous nominations as Brand Champion.  Her colleagues said that she is a genuine and caring person who is always so full of excitement and exemplifies what it means to “Alpine.”  One commented, “She is the first to arrive and the last to leave a bank function, making sure it goes off without a hitch…”

In addition to the Service Star Awards, employees with 5, 10, 15, and 20 years of service received their Alpine Bank Service Pins.  Over thirty employees were also recognized for having 20-plus years of service with the Alpine Bank family.

 

Alpine Bank Community Shred Day on May 3rd

close up photo of paper that's been shredded

Alpine Bank and Paper Recovery Service Corporation, a secure shredding solutions company, are partnering together again to hold Alpine Bank’s annual spring Community Shred Day on Saturday, May 3, 2014, from 9 a.m. to Noon in the parking lot of Alpine Bank’s East State Street Branch at 6838 East State Street in Rockford. Alpine Bank Community Shred Day is a FREE event open to the entire community. Attendees, without leaving the comforts of their vehicles, will be able to drop off their documents at the “shredding drive-thru” and watch Paper Recover shred them during the event on site free of charge.

People are invited to bring a maximum of 2 boxes of the following materials to be shredded: clean paper of any color, file folders of any color, papers containing staples, paper clips, rubber bands, and/or small binders. Materials that cannot be shredded include: trash, cardboard, telephone books, hardcover books, hanging folders, 3-ring binders, lever-arch binders, and any plastics, including computer disks, CDs, DVDs, VCR tapes, ID badges, x-rays, transparencies, etc.

Identity theft continues to be a serious growing crime in the United States. As noted on the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site, nearly 9 million Americans are victims of some form of identity theft each year. Shredding personal documents and information is just one way to avoid becoming a victim. At one of our Community Shred Day events, Alpine Bank shredded a world record, collecting an astounding 253,318 lbs. of shred, which is more than the combined weight of all of the steel parts in the Statue of Liberty.

Alpine Bank hosts two Community Shred Days each year – one in the spring and one in the fall.

For more information about this Community Shred Day, visit www.bankalpine.com or call 815.398.6500. For more information about identity theft and other important security tips, visit https://www.bankalpine.com/security-privacy.

 

About Paper Recovery Service Corporation

Based in Loves Park, IL, Paper Recovery Service Corporation provides solutions from secure document destruction to recycling for businesses in manufacturing, retail, or professional services.

Are You Making These 8 Common Home Buying Mistakes?

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Life contains certain landmark events: birth, getting your driver’s license, graduating from high school, getting married and so on. One of the most important decisions you will make in life is purchasing a home, whether it is your first home or the home you plan to live in until you die. It can be a very exciting process, but entering that process unprepared or getting caught up in it can spell trouble.

In order to help those of you looking to purchase a home this year, Alpine Bank has put together these eight common home buying mistakes in order for you to be better prepared and to make buying your home a highlight in your life.

Mistake #1, Forgetting About the Extra Costs- here’s a rundown of the costs you can expect to pay: mortgage (principal with interest), property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, utilities appraisal fee, credit report fee, escrow fee, closing costs and your real estate agent’s fee.

Mistake #2, Loving a House Too Much- getting caught up in all the features of a home can easily lead you over your budget. Stay practical with your needs.

Mistake #3, Buying More Home than You can Afford- a good rule of thumb here: if you are purchasing a home with another person, base the payment on only one of your incomes. That way, if something happens you will still be able to make payments on your home.

Mistake #4, Not Making a 20 Percent Down Payment- anything less than 20 percent likely means your lender will require costly private mortgage insurance.

Mistake #5, Not Having an Inspection Done- choose someone you trust and make sure it is done by the book. Nothing is worse than your foundation beginning to leak a year into living in your new home.

Mistake #6, Buying with Bad Credit- predatory lending is still alive, and is a sure way to end up in a home with a mortgage you can’t afford. Improve your credit score first before buying.

Mistake #7, Too Much Credit Activity- when you are in home buying mode, you should be doing two things only: paying bills and saving money. Anything else could mess with your credit.

Mistake #8, Not Being Committed to Staying Put- if you have a hard time with commitment, i.e., signing a one-year lease on your apartment makes you break out in hives, then homeownership is not for you. Make sure you are ready to live in the area for a while.

We hope recognizing these fatal mistakes helps you in your preparations for purchasing a new home, or at least gives you some guidance if the actual buying process is still a way down the road. Feel free to contact Alpine Bank’s mortgage lenders about these or other mortgage concerns.

Alpine Bank Schedules FREE Identity Theft Seminars

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Alpine Bank is hosting two free identity theft seminars on April 8 and 10, 2014, two of more than 3,000 free financial programs during Money Smart Week®, April 5-12, 2014.

The April 8 session will be conducted by Jessica Hendon, AVP & Security Officer for Alpine Bank, from 3:00pm-4:00pm at the Rockford Public Library on East State Street.  Lizmara Aboytes, Banking Officer & Assistant Branch Manager, will be conducting a session in Spanish at the Rockford Public Library’s Main Branch on Wyman Street, on April 10 from 3:30pm-4:30pm. To sign up for one of these two programs, entitled Securing Your Identity:  How to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft, or to find other programs in your area, visit www.moneysmartweek.org.

Money Smart Week is a public awareness campaign to promote financial education across all age groups. Launched in 2002 by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the program is now active in more than 45 states through national partnerships with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Cooperative Extension and the American Library Association.

“Money Smart Week began as a coordinated effort among a small group of Chicago-area organizations working to promote financial literacy,” says Alejo Torres, Senior Outreach Manager at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. “Today, Money Smart Week continues to expand nationally, providing greater awareness of, and access to, personal finance resources for all.”

Money Smart Week events are open to the public at businesses, financial institutions, schools, libraries, nonprofits and government agencies throughout the country on topics including kids and money, unemployment, managing student debt and retirement. To learn more about Money Smart Week® visit www.moneysmartweek.org.

For questions or to register for Alpine Bank’s free Identity Theft classes, pleace contact one of the instructors.  Their information is provided below.

Jessica Hendon | Phone:  815.398.6500  | Email: jessica.hendon@bankalpine.com

Lizmara Aboytes (hablo español)  | Phone:  815.544.7603  | Email:  lizmara.aboytes@bankalpine.com

6 Investing Lessons from March Madness

The NCAA championship basketball tournament is an annual highlight for sports fans, earning the nickname “March Madness” for the frenzy that teams and fans alike become caught up in during the four weeks of tournament play. Filling out a bracket is perhaps the only thing more popular than watching the tournament games. Like investing, bracket picks are a matter of balancing expertise, expectation, risk and reward.
1. It’s about getting the most right, not being perfect.
Your investing, like your bracket, is not going to be perfect. The mathematical odds of correctly picking the outcome of every game in the NCAA Tournament are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (for the record, that first number is 9 quintillion). Statistically, each person on earth would have to fill out more than a billion individual brackets before one would be perfect.
The odds of all your investments continually producing above-market returns are probably even lower. Successful investing is about making as many wise decisions as possible and getting more investments right than wrong.
2. Diversify.
No one turns in a bracket with results for just one or two teams and expects to earn enough points to win. People fill out the entire bracket to gather enough points and ensure that losses in one region can be compensated for with wins in another. Diversification is hugely important to investors as well. No matter how sure you are of an investment, it’s never a good idea to put all your money in one place.
3. Anything could happen, but it usually doesn’t.
Although there are always some upsets, favored teams usually do reasonably well. Investors shouldn’t think that diversifying among long-shot stocks is a recipe for success. You could successfully score on every upset game of the tournament if you only picked underdogs, but there is no way those few successful games could make up for all the losses where things went as everyone expected.
4. Last year’s tournament was last year.
Past performance guarantees nothing about the future. Investors (and basketball fans) should never assume that their best picks from last year will have a repeat performance. A team wins because of skill and management; a hot stock should only be kept if there are sound reasons for its past (and future) success.
5. Lucky systems are a myth.
Humans are hardwired to see patterns. It’s a survival instinct that helps us find the things that we need and avoid dangerous situations. Superstitions form when people notice a pattern and choose to only remember the times when it worked, reinforcing useless behavior. A foolish investment (or bracket) is one that relies on superstitious or “hunch” decision-making. Investments are ownership in a company, not a gamble. Successful companies are the key to successful stocks.
6. The drama goes up the more you watch.
Though watching the action of a live game is the most exciting part of the NCAA tournament, it’s one of the worst ideas in investing. Drama is good entertainment, but it almost never helps an investor. Watching every twitch of the market only leads to bad decision-making. A wise investor stays as detached as possible from daily stock fluctuations.
How they’re different: Investing is not a competition
It’s important to remember that good investing is not about being the best investor in the world; it’s about securing enough money for your future. Unlike March Madness, you shouldn’t worry about “beating” others’ investment strategies. A sound strategy might not be as impressive as someone else’s high-risk approach, but it can still be successful.

 

Link to PDF of Alpine Trust & Investment Group newsletter: AB Newsletter March 2014

 

How to Reward Yourself Without Breaking Your Budget: 10 Ideas

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In last month’s post “10 Ways to (Smartly) Blow Your Tax Refund,” we listed “treat yourself” as a way to use your tax refund. In this post, Alpine Bank wants to elaborate more on how treating yourself can be a reward without costing money.

Think about the things you like doing most; how many of them cost money? Some of the biggest rewards in life don’t cost anything or have relatively little expense. Here are some frugal ideas to help you treat yourself.

  • Pour a nice glass of wine- red wine has been shown to help your heart, so pour yourself a glass and de-stress.
  • Soak in a hot bath or hot tub- a great way to relax after a long day.
  • Turn some pages- is there a book you’ve been wanting to read, but just haven’t gotten to? Find your nearest bookstore, grab a copy and turn into a bookworm.
  • Park it- as the weather (hopefully) warms up, find a park near your home or work and take in a nice afternoon or evening.
  • Pound the pavement- it costs you nothing to go for a walk or run, and it is an investment in your health!
  • Catch a flick- try an early movie time on a weekend before the crowds arrive and movie prices go up.
  • Have someone else cook- order in from your favorite Chinese place or that new place on the corner you’ve been wanting to try.
  • Call someone and chat- life can get busy, so call someone you haven’t talked to in a while and catch up.
  • Clear your DVR- if you have one, go through and watch everything you’ve recorded.
  • Indulge your guilty pleasure- from reality TV to playing your favorite music and singing along, do what makes you feel good! 

How do you reward yourself? There are many great things to do around our communities that cost little to no money, so be sure take a look at all the Rockford area has to offer.  Alpine Bank hopes you find something new and exciting, and we look forward to seeing you again!

5 Ways to Start Retirement Planning Before You Turn 30

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Retirement is for the birds, right? If you’re not even 30, why should you worry about it? You have student loan debts to pay off, rent or your first mortgage to pay, a tepid job market to navigate and insurance to be worried about. Retirement? You’ll think about that when you’re 40.

 

If you follow this train of thought, you’re on the wrong train. Retirement planning may be more crucial when you’re younger because it dictates how you approach your finances as a whole for the rest of your life. Remember the 2008 recession? Millions of Americans lost their retirement nest eggs and either had to go back to work or extend their working years.

 

You don’t want to end up working until you’re 67 or 68, right? Here are five ways you can avoid that fate:

 

Get a sense of what you need- but please don’t freak out. You need a goal in order to save properly, and there are seemingly endless resources available, at Alpine Bank and online, to help you see what you’ll need for retirement.

 

Prioritize- before you start funding your retirement, take care of your immediate needs: establish an emergency fund and pay down your debts.

 

Fund your 401(k)- if your employer offers a 401(k), opt in, especially if there’s a company match involved.

 

Get your IRA on- no 401(k) option? Try a traditional or Roth IRA. A traditional IRA lets you make tax-free contributions, while money in a Roth IRA grows tax-free.

 

Chill out- yes, saving and investing in your future early can really pay off. It also takes time for all that to happen, so be patient, don’t stress over each rise and fall and keep your eyes on the prize.

 

The earlier you save, the more your money gets the benefits of compound interest. You don’t have to start out dumping huge amounts into your account; all that matter is that you start. The Investment and Retirement teams at Alpine Bank can also be a trusted resource for this and other information regarding retirement, so be sure to get in touch with them if you have questions.